June 2019: Brigantes

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Area of the Month for June 2019 is Brigantes!

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Player: You!(Class/Level)

Review Date(s):


Descriptions: X/10

How does the area's room descriptions(descs) work for you? Do they give you a good idea of the area? Do things that stand out in the desc and NEED explanation GET that, either from flavor text(extra-descs) or NPCs in the room or anything?

What about mobiles(mobs) and their descriptions? Can you get a decent mental image of who or what this NPC/monster is? Do they respond when you talk or interact with them?

Some areas have interact-able objects like fountains. Do they stack up well also?


Balance: X/10 (OR N/A)

(NOTE: combat will be most accurately gauged when your character is in the area's suggested level range.)

If this area has combat, how does it feel? Does anything jump as horribly overpowered and impossible to deal with? What about the flipside, anything far too easy to beat?

Are purchased or rewarded items at the appropriate strength levels? Is the effort required to obtain rewarded items reflected in their usefulness (or uniqueness and fancifulness)


Attractions: X/10

Why would you suggest someone come to this area? Is it just a good place to grind experience(lots of mobs)? Does the area provide a chunk of good gold and loot?

What about the quests? Does this area's quests feel properly done, or is there some part of it that you feel needs work?

For towns, are the shops good? Any other non-combative attraction for the area?


Connections: X/10

How easily and well does this area connect to its nearby areas? Does it make sense thematically to be connected to the areas it is?


Personal

Any comments you'd like to make that you don't feel apply to the other sections can go here!



Player - Aelys (Sorceress, level 100, 16 Remorts) --SHELL'D

Review Date - 6/17/2019

Descriptions:8/10

Brigantes is a joy to wander through and to see and take in all its myriad sights and descriptions. From its mobs various interactions and talk progs to its detailed and thematic descriptions, you can tell it is lovely made and tweaked over time to near perfection. There are still a few minor typo's and odd bits left over to finish polishing up, but they are hardly disruptive. However, it is because of this loving attention, that its other flaw, does stand out more. While the main room-descs are largely fine, and the most important, often interactive, details have extra-descs, things the main-description draws attention too and that could thus merit an Extra-Desc, as like as not, dont have them. This is most disruptive in places like the Witch's Wart, where specific mention is made of several attention-grabbers, and not all appear to be covered with actual Extra-Desc's. The streets and various shops may have one thing Extra-Desced, but mention two or three more that could pop out as an Extra-Desc, but dont pan out as such. Is such attention to detail necisary, no, however, given the rest of the attention to detail Brigantes offers, it stands out in a slightly negative fashion. The various mobs and npc's around Brigantes, are also worth mentioning for having fun, distinctive interactions, some particularly sneaky and tricky to finagle out how to coax out of them, most of the results furthering progress in relation to the various mini-quests around the Town.

Balance:7/10

Combat

From a combat-perspective Brigantes has a rather sterling reputation for Remorters as being 'easy', yet high lvl enough to be exceptional experience. Its combatable mobs dealing slight, but noticably so, less damage then even some lower lvl foes, a decent variaty of said combat-ables and primarily for being easy to Re-Populate by leaving the Town. From a Wizarding stand-point, this is exceptionally so, since the majority of foes you are likely to face, are Pumpkinheads, with a major known and thus exploitable weakness, in the form of a vulnerability to Fire. However, the fact everyone and their pet could know this by looking up the Pumpkinhead race, should not be counted against them as a whole, any thus known consistant weakness ends up being equally usefull, it's just Brigantes weakpoint that the majority of its kill-ables have it. All that said, this is from a Remorted perspective, thus the same can be said for most any area, Brigantes merely being a very nice place because of its relatively high lvl by comparison to other likewise areas. Without the knowledge of how to use the weaknesses of its mobs, they are quite capable of tearing the unwary limb from limb or blasting them to a twitching, crisp mess of magical mayhem. They may Disarm, Trip, Bash, hurl myriad status afflictions at you, and in general, have many, many ways of messing people up. Combat thus, remorted 5/10, non-remorted 9/10, for an average of 7/10.

9/10 Items

Purchased Goods and Quest-earned Items are rife in Brigantes. It's one of the biggest towns in the Cleft by its offer of various shops and types of things to purchase; Pets, Potions, Wearables and Craftables, Usables and Edibles. About the only thing it Lacks, is a Weapon's Shop. It even has a place to sell Vehicles, the finest Pawnshop which buys most things at the highest price you're likely to find, and holds the only shop for Saber and Enchantment services. Not everything in itself might be as you may like it, but Brigantes is sure to have something to delight most any shopper. As to its quest-earned items; while personally they are more quirky then usefull, some are quite nice indeed for all that.

Attractions:9/10

As mentioned in the Combat portion of the Balance section, Brigantes is an exceptional place to level in. The mobs are slightly on the weak side, but mainly have exploitable weaknesses with the right tool-sets, and earn a goodly amount of exp and gold. Which combines nicely with a nice mob diversity and density level, while allowing comparatively easy and quick repopulation. Further, it has some of the most excellent services available, in the form of the Pawnshop for re-sale value, and the Rune Shop for various Saber and Enchantment needs. Aswell as some of the better pets, and quirky items from around its various shopping spree spread. Quest-wise, Brigantes also has mostly good things, in that the finished Quests are fun, appropriate and well entrenched into the Town, with hints and interactions with its various npc's guiding you through them where applicable. However, there is one major Demerit keeping it from a full 10/10. The Main-Quest, appears by all intents and purposes to be un-finished. After lots of run-around, interaction and sleuthing for Clues, you hit a literal dead-end, just when it's getting nice and spooky. Which is rather frustrating since up to then, it is very well-played, sends you running around the Cleft as-proper for Big-Leagues Quests, and seems to be nearing its end Boss-fight stage.

Connections:6/10

With all that is available in Brigantes, it should come as no surprise, that even Entering the Midnight City, is Quest-Locked. And while I actually approve of it being Quest-locked, the method of finding out how-too Unlock it, I do not agree with. Without going into overt detail, since Qinfo, the proper method of even knowing how-too-unlock, is buried down the 3rd or 4th link of a unrelated Quest-chain, so obscure that it took much, much sleuthing to even find out it was the Link to find out how to learn the Unlocking Method. Fortunately, the actual un-locking method is unreliant on said quest-chain, it merely high-lights you on what you need to do. Ergo, the first time I found out said Questchain, I'd actually already done the Unlocking, and thus broke said chain of events and the Questchain came undone, joy. All that said, it's actual Location as a City, is perfectly suited, the unlocking method itself makes sense enough in context, however the connective Link to learn how too, no, that is very poorly executed personally. It is a good questchain, but too obscurely placed.

Personal: Brigantes, is Awesome. It doesnt need much done, a bit of polish on some room descs, some more extra descs if anything at all. Its one, glaring flaw, lies in the abrupt Ending to its joys; Finish that Main Quest!



Player: Ademisk (84 Cavalier, 3 remorts)

Review Date(s): 6/21/19


Descriptions: 9/10

The area's descriptions are fantastic. It gives the area a great sense of thematic color and the places where a closer look are required are easily noticed. Socials never seem too difficult to figure out either. I haven't had any problems looking at anything that piqued my interest either. The mob descriptions do a competent job at giving you an image of the character they're describing.


Balance: 6/10

Brigantes has always felt a little too easy to me, and my recent trips there have all confirmed this. The pumpkinheads do decent damage but very little in the area will attack you on its own, so there's very little danger of fleeing a losing battle, which rarely happens. The War Witches can be challenging, especially if you're vulnerable to their element, but the prizes they give are so good that it more than makes up for this fact. The occasional named NPC can be a little difficult, but for the most part they're not quite on-level for named fights. The shops in Brigantes are, on the other hand, very balanced. Brigantes has a lot of great items to buy and all of them are interesting and useful for the level without going overboard. Comparing it among towns with shops I'd say that Brigantes is almost unbalanced for high quality, but honestly I'd rather say that Brigantes should be the model for a shopping experience in this game.


Attractions: 9.5/10

In terms of a place to level, this one takes the cake among all other level-equivalent areas. There are a large number of mobs wandering around, none of them target you, they are mostly pretty easy to kill, and many of them gives fantastic on-level drops. As balance this is a minus but as an attraction, Brigantes is always an area that I prioritize coming to. The shopping experience as well is phenomenal: fun, useful, and huge variety.

Quests have actually improved significantly since the last time I checked this area. There's a few things that are difficult to find but I've been able to get a handle on a number of them. There's also a fairly large number of quests that come into Brigantes from other areas, which means you'll most likely be finding your way here for one reason or another. The only quest-related concern I have is that the main line of quest doesn't seem particularly robust, and the rewards I've seen from quests don't seem to quite match up to the level of drops or shopping items in the town.

The town is also full of interesting characters to talk to and look at, which is not unique but Brigantes does it especially well. There's a number of unique features such as the Hallowrena and the blackjack parlour which you won't find anything like in any other town. Even the most innocuous characters that aren't mobs for killing have some purpose or something interesting to do with.


Connections: 5/10

It's a bit difficult to understand what a player is supposed to do to access Brigantes if they don't meet the requirements. It just gives you an electric shock and you're supposed to figure it out on your own. It could be really annoying for a new player. I honestly don't even remember how to access it at the moment since it was already unlocked for my character, however when I tried to access on my Iron Soul character I was annoyed at not remembering what to do.

Brigantes doesn't really fit that well with the surrounding area. Everything around it is ice-themed, and suddenly it's a halloween themed town. That being said, due to Brigantes' unique entrance, it really could go anywhere and the area it's in is at least level-wise and distance from a starting town very appropriate.


Personal

Brigantes is one of my favorite areas that I always find my way back to. In some ways this is good, in other ways it's a sign that it needs improvement. It's definitely one of the best areas in the game from a player experience perspective, but I think it could be brought in line a bit better with overall expectations of cleft balance and exploration flow.


Player: Emouse (Dollmage, level 100, 18 remorts) - Token'd!

Review Dates: 6/29/2019-6/30/2019

Descriptions: 9/10

Brigantes' descriptions are pretty nice: All of them have nice personality and detail, there's a variety of talk results with relevant information, and Lucia and Slorgma's movement and interactions make the place feel lively. Only Oogie Boogie's lookdesc is questionable thanks to being a running gag more than a detailed description, really.

My only real complaint would be the uneven distribution of extra descs: The ones that exist are great, but there's somewhat less of it in the southeast and northern parts of town. This isn't a serious issue, but some things like the bed(?) Ronove mentions and the rules poster mentioned in the Hallowrena are called out enough to feel more like oversights than "there's nothing more to say about this". Overall really strong, but there's some missing spots. More understandable with the main plot-quest seemingly incomplete - something that could be visited when the time is right, but not worth making a priority.

Balance: 8/10 for combat; estimate 8/10 for equipment/rewards

I've used Brigantes as a levelling spot on many occasions, most recently on my Ironsoul geomancers, so I'll weigh in on the combat balance: Brigantes' combat balance is mostly good for direct combat: enemies fight back decently with a variety of skills and elements, so there's no one way to cheese things; you usually won't get overwhelmed by a single enemy, but if you get careless or overconfident you can certainly die. Except for Starlet, who will probably kick your butt if you don't treat her like the bossfight she is.

The question for me for combat balance would be how Brigantes' status as a town should impact the fights there: One big thing about Brigantes is that once you've figured out how to avoid provoking pickpockets, Brigantes is a very safe place to fight: Once you flee from a fight, there are no further risks. Nothing attacks you unprovoked or will re-engage if you flee and re-entere the room. For a town, this would make sense; but as a popular mid-high levelling zone with so many attractions for all level ranges, that may or may not be too generous. I could see having unprovoked pickpocket attempts on low-level marks, and guards/war witches either assisting or remembering enemies to pick on.

As for the equipment and rewards available... I haven't been seriously impressed by most of it, but all the drops here are usable for one niche or another. They're generally good and fitting for the level/difficulty-to-obtain involved, but nothing super jumps out at me as a must-have for equipment purposes.

With two possible exceptions: Arche's Broom is my endgame vehicle of choice due to its abundance of flags, offset by requiring a relatively heavy and unclear key; and the stats/slot for the E. Gadd quest reward are pretty underwhelming - I'm not sure how much the special spell it casts truly offsets that.

Attractions: 10/10

In some ways it's easier to list what Brigantes doesn't have than what it does: Unique NPC services? Check. Neat quests? Check. Good shops? Check. Good XP opportunities? Check. Good cash income? Check. Flavorful NPC antics? Check. Involved pet options? Check. Fanciful food with unique spells? Check. Free fountain? Check.

The main things Brigantes are missing are a weapon shop/weapon buyer, a Necro location (for some reason I have distant memories of Ronove being one once upon a time), a rest area/inn, and quests with concrete plot-y consequences. The gameplay features for here are probably unnecessary considering how good of a location Brigantes is already, and the plot consequences seem to be a (hiatused?) work in progress already, so there's nothing to really ask for on this front.

The biggest unique attractions are Pip's above-par sell value for several common item types, and Jeanne's incredibly powerful extra sabers and Enchant spells. I don't know what to say about these: You can make a good argument for them being overpowered, but they've been a long-established part of the game. Brigantes being significantly out of the way is somewhat of a counterbalance, but the fact that these can be used as any level with only "reach Brigantes" as a prerequisite is... a potential concern.

Connections: 9/10

Brigantes itself only has one entrance from the outside world; fitting due to its status as a lost/hidden city. That said, there are an okay amount of external references to it, and Brigantes' quests do send you out into the rest of the world on occasion. There are plenty of fitting not-origin-series characters making appearances in Brigantes, so it's... integrated with the Cleft, but about as disconnected from the rest of the world as it should be, under the circumstances. You can justify either more or less connection to the rest of the world at this point; it's probably about where it should be, barring major quest developments.

Bugs/Exploits:

Mostly an oversight: Alanna the Alchemist refers to "pot seeds," which have since been retired and turned into basic pills.

"Something" in eastern Nightmare Promenade (outside of Pip's) has no give handling and is noattack

More a matter of preference: Hades' talkprog doesn't hint that even a failed cauldron thing will destroy both items to warn you against trial and error experimentation.

Overall: A+

Brigantes is popular for a reason. Lots of reasons, in fact. Too many? Maybe.

Personal

One weakness/unfairness of Brigantes is the level of obscurity for starting some of its quests: Requiring quest access to the city makes sense (especially considering how powerful its services are), but nothing at the entrance to Brigantes hints at the quest sequence leading up to it. People trying to figure out the entrance without being around for the change note announcing the quest requirement addition end up at a significant disadvantage. The hints for what's implemented of the 'plot' quest are also grimace-inducingly subtle; not as much of an issue since there's no end goal at the moment, but something to keep in mind for the future.



Player: Abaril(All the Classes/Level 69 at review/2 morts shy of the final goal(?)) --Token'd!

Review Date(s): 6/30/19


Descriptions: 9/10 (+1 bonus point for an Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre character being fun)

Brigantes is easily one of the best described cities in the Cleft. It is very well-written and has an abundance of flavor. The only other city that has a distinct feel that would compare is Viorar. The use of color is appropriate and helps convey the sense of a dark, foreboding hidden city. The extra descriptions in various rooms and shops flesh out the area very nicely and provide hints to hidden rooms or to quest solutions.

Mobs are also, for the most part, described with phenomenal detail. The random minions like war witches, city guards and thugs are all solidly described, and the unique named mobs are even better. Tifa, Locke, the shining knight, Slorgma, Edea and more all feel like they've stepped straight out of the source material and into the Cleft. Of particular note is Deneb. Her descriptions are thoughtfully written and top-notch. The added wielded Kerykeion was a very nice touch!


Balance: 6/10

Combat in Brigantes is solid enough for me to still be using it as a regular leveling zone after many morts. It isn't a pushover like other zones in its level range (I'm looking at you Wily's Lab) and it isn't incredibly hard with loads of aggro and status effects like others. It feels like it's in a pretty good spot there, and the mob variety is broad enough that you don't feel bodycount hitting you like a truck as can happen in other areas.

The drop rewards are definitely niche at best. I've never found myself anticipating hitting the proper level to wear a cheesy gold ring or flower hauberk, and the city guard weapons are decent but become quickly outclassed by other things. The most useful drop in Brigantes probably comes from Slorgma--he's worth killing on any trip to the zone.

Attractions: 8/10 (+1 bonus point for a Suikoden character being super useful!)

If I didn't have to factor in the zone's quests, attractions would likely get an 11/10 from me. While the quests themselves are fun, funny and thought-provoking in cases, I deduct 2 points for the quest rewards being outdated and somewhat mediocre. I also take 1 point off for Lucia being exceptionally obnoxious by wandering into shops where you're trying to buy or sell things and throwing buy and sell completely out of whack. Her mprog is actually flavorful and interesting upon the first couple of visits to the city, but when you want to buy runes or potions, she can be beyond loathsome.

Some of the shop items are very worthwhile and even usable well outside of the area's recommended range. Alanna's Alchemy has a nice selection of useful potions, especially for players with a limited number of remorts. Pip's Pawn Shop remains highly useful for the life of your character as well. Of particular note, however, is Enchanted Evenings. Jeanne is easily one of the most useful NPCs in the entire game, period. Her enchanting service is highly useful from the moment you discover Brigantes and continues to be so for the life of your character. No trip to an endgame zone starts before the folks involved go for a visit to Jeanne.

As for the quests themselves, most are fun and entertaining, and a few are exceptionally well done. "busted some ghosts" is clever and a fun hunt, but the reward is lackluster. "helped control the pet population" is underwhelming and has limited replay value once you start morting. "conquered the Hallowrena" was quite challenging the first time I tried it, since I was 100% summoner with no skills/spells from other classes and your pets don't auto-transfer with you. The reward is slightly above average and worth hanging on to. "become an alcoholic" is hilarious fun and has mid-level, repeat-every-life value. "broken an amphibious curse" still makes me smile even though I know the routine. I don't usually bother to do it every life for the reward, but the reward isn't terrible by any means. There are at least two hidden quests in the area. One deals with a Final Fantasy VI character and is incredibly short but still cute. The second deals with a pair of Final Fantasy IX characters and is one of the best written small side-quests in the game. It's not quite slime opera caliber, but it's still superbly written with a phenomenal reward in the right situation.


Connections: 4/10

To the best of my knowledge, there's only one way in and two ways out of Brigantes. Since its theme is being hidden behind a quest, that makes sense, yet it limits how highly I feel I can rate the connections category. The funny thing with the quest that's supposed to lead you to Brigantes is that I unlocked the city several morts before I ever even saw the chain of events that's supposed to lead you there. I had to stop and say, "oh now it makes sense." The city seems to be less well-hidden than the quest chain that is designed to open it up for you. The alternate path out of the area isn't terribly useful since it only leads to a few rooms away from the entrance.

Personal

Brigantes is essential to any player who plans to be seriously active. Even though some of the drops and rewards are a little dated, the area itself offers multiple exceptional items and services that you simply cannot find in any of the other cities in Cleft. It was the in the first set of house portals that I ever bought, and it's the one portal I recommend over any of the others to anyone who is purchasing their first home. I was a big fan of Brigantes when I first visited, and I remain so today. Having characters from Final Fantasy VI and IX plus the Suikoden series and the Ogre Battle series brings back serious nostalgia more so than most other areas in the Cleft. I put some serious hours into all of those games and love to see the references here. I've never been a big fan of some of the games that are referenced here (Pokemon & Donkey Kong, for example) and others I've never even played at all (Kirby and Sonic come to mind).

Side note, I would love to see more Suikoden references or even a complete zone! Viki and Jeanne are both awesome, but there are so many more folks to add!